Police-Involved Deaths To Be Investigated By TBI


Any death of a suspect or detainee involving the Memphis Police Department (MPD) or Shelby County Sheriff's Office (SCSO) will be investigated by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), according to an agreement signed by the MPD, SCSO, and Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich.

The TBI will be charged with investigating such situations, but the agency will not make recommendations or draw legal conclusions, according to the agreement. Instead, those findings will be sent to Weirich's office for review.

“We believe this method will increase the level of public confidence in such investigations and, quite frankly, it will relieve the police and sheriff’s officers of a most-difficult task, that is, of investigating circumstances involving one of their own,” Weirich said. “We all hope this procedure will never be necessary, but it is now in place and will be the rule going forward.”

Upon the occurrence of such a death, according to the agreement, the police department or sheriff’s office shall:

* immediately notify the TBI and DA’s office

* secure a crime scene perimeter with access limited to emergency medical personnel, medical examiner personnel and TBI personnel 

* detain and hold any arrested persons pending the arrival of TBI personnel

* identify and separate all eye witnesses for subsequent interview by TBI 

The agreement also outlines TBI responsibilities, including:

* initiating an investigation in accordance with state law and TBI policy

* dispatching of any TBI personnel necessary for proper conduct of such an investigation

* issuing investigative reports and summaries to the DA’s as appropriate in the investigative process 

* submitting final reports to the DA’s office for review without an opinion on whether the force used, if any, was justified.

The July 17th police-involved shooting of Darrius Stewart was investigated by the TBI, and the agency has wrapped up the investigation and forwarded its findings to Weirich, but she hasn't yet made a decision on the case.

In that case, Stewart was shot and killed by Memphis Police Officer Conor Schilling after the car Stewart was a passenger in was pulled over for having a headlight out. Stewart was placed in the back of a squad car after the traffic stop while Schilling checked for warrants. The police account of what happened says that, when Schilling opened the squad car to handcuff Stewart, the man kicked the door and tried to attack the officer. Shortly after the warrant check, police reported that Stewart had been shot and an ambulance was called for. Stewart later died at the Regional Medical Center.

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